March Madness

It’s time to start breathing again.

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Y’all.  I don’t know about yours, but my March was filled with some crazy stuff.  So many things shifting, changing.  It’s left me a little tired, a little breathless…

  1.  My father died.  This is a man I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years, a man who caused no small amount of stress and horror and terror and issues for every person in my family.  He was not a good man by even the most generous definition of good.  I spent a lot of years working through all the yuck and was truly able to come to a place of forgiveness.  And I’ve stayed there, at peace.  But I felt nothing when informed of his passing.  It wasn’t like I was trying not to feel; there really was no connection and no reaction, except maybe a little pity that he died senile and alone in a VA hospital.  Messages of condolence came rolling in, and I had no idea how to tell people how completely unnecessary they were, so I just said, “Thank you.”
  2. A family member called me confrontational, said all of us were, and we just needed to sit down at a table together and hash it all out.  No, no, no.  First, there’s a huge difference between being confrontational and standing on the truth.  Think about it.  The first conveys a sort of aggressive forward motion, a loud voice.  The second conveys a sense of stillness, being immovable, quietly holding one’s ground.  A big part of the difference between the two is knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet.  I’m not confrontational – I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination – but I will defend the truth.  Second, I know my family members, and they are all very set in their own opinions, which is fine.  I don’t know what this particular family member expects to magically happen, but all that table session would be is a lot of yelling and negativity and no one budging.  As with the stuff with my father, I worked through the family drama, and I forgave and moved on.  And for that matter, I moved 4000 miles away.  How much less confrontational can one be?  A pastor friend once told me, “You can forgive someone fully, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit and eat apple pie with them.”  I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that statement, especially when you don’t live your life from the same place as the other person.
  3. I reached my limit with the terrible job I talked about in my last post.  I got tired of not being able to sleep, of having a heavy weight on my chest at all times, of the dread of going to work, of being constantly undermined.  J and I talked, and his exact words were, “None of this would be worth it if you were making $200K a year,” (which I’m not).  So I resigned, and you would not believe the number of coworkers who came out of the woodwork and said things like, “Good for you.  I’m afraid to leave,” or, “99% of the staff on center feel like you do, but we’ve all got reasons we have to stay,” or, “Did you ever notice how no one ever volunteers their real feelings in the management meetings because they’ll just get shot down?” or even, “I hate to see you go.  You’re one of the good ones.”  I know I made the right choice, and while it’s stretching my faith in a totally new way (scary), I know I need to take some time and, well, decontaminate.  That’s really what it feels like.

I have no idea what April is going to hold, but I know Who holds me, and things are going to be okay.  If you’ve just come out of a tumultuous season, I really encourage you to seek the Lord for direction.  The direction he’s given me is to rest, heal, play, create, and get in the sun, and while a huge part of me feels like I’m not doing anything productive, the smarter part of me knows that I’ve had a really rough few years, and if the Lord is telling me to take care of myself (and providing a way for that to happen), then it’s the most productive thing I can do.  So today, the temperature hit 51 degrees, and I laid outside on my deck and basked in the warm sun, and I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.  And I will paint and write and take it one day at a time until I know the next step.  And then I’ll do that one.

Stay tuned…

A Bad Case of “This Ain’t What I Thought it was Gonna Be!”

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Sometimes my optimism really annoys me.  I tend to go into things expecting them to be 100% wonderful…or at the very least, function like they should.  And then, when they aren’t and don’t, I stand bewildered, then frustrated, my sense of justice and rightness raring up indignantly.  The cynics point and laugh and say, “You’re kind of an idiot, you know.  What were you thinking?”

Well, I was thinking the best of everyone and everything.  It’s my default, and it means I get disappointed a lot…

Take my job, for example.  I had wanted to work at my current place of employment since I first moved to Alaska in 2014.  I believe in their mission and thought it would be a great chance to impact young people’s lives.  The opportunity came in May 2018, but even getting the job was an odyssey.  I applied and never heard anything, but the position stayed open.  So I called and was told I didn’t qualify, which made no sense.  I had clearly heard the Lord tell me that was where he wanted me, but it seemed to dead-end.  And then one day in August, a friend told me the company was holding a job fair, so I showed up with a couple of copies of my resume.  I was the only person who attended that day, and they could see that I had applied but couldn’t find my resume anywhere on the recruiting site.  They couldn’t imagine why I was told I didn’t qualify.  They interviewed me the next week and offered me the job.

Yay!  Or so I thought, until I understood the maelstrom I had walked into and was now ostensibly in charge of:

  1.  My department’s office moved from Anchorage to the Valley in June.
  2. The entire team quit.
  3. They left behind over 300 files that hadn’t been touched, some since February.
  4. All of my subordinates’ positions were filled before I was hired.
  5. They never got much training.
  6. I never got much training.
  7. Because we were scrambling to deal with the files, I had no time to build team relationships.  I was on cleanup duty for a mess I didn’t make, and there was an expectation that we’d all produce as fast as possible.  The human element didn’t seem to matter to the higher-ups, and we didn’t gel as a team from the start.
  8. My immediate manager didn’t hand over the reins on far too many things I was responsible for, even though I asked and asked and asked.
  9. When the contract changed at the beginning of this year, he was let go, and the director started to understand just how much I didn’t know.  (“Whoa, maybe she’s NOT just a crappy manager.  Maybe she’s just untrained!”)
  10. Half of my team quit right when the contract changed.
  11. We’ve been EXTREMELY short-staffed but expected to produce at the level of a fully-staffed team…and no one is applying for the open positions across our center.  Word on the street is that we don’t have such a great reputation as a place to work.
  12. Numbers and stats seem to be more important than people.
  13. The general air across the whole center is soooooo negative, tense, and stressed.  You can feel it in the air.

I have never worked in an environment like this before.  I have never cried so much or been so exhausted by a job.  And on top of that, I have had the hardest time figuring out why I’m even there because when I asked the Lord to help me hit the expected numbers, he said, “No.”

“Wait, what?” said I.  “So you’re setting me up for failure?  This is extremely uncool, and I don’t understand.”

“Daughter.  Chill.  I am not setting you up for failure.  I will protect you, and you know that.  What I AM doing is giving them a chance to realize how unrealistic their expectations are and to change them.  In the meantime, speak life every opportunity you get.”

Okay, then.  First, I had to make a Herculean effort to climb out of the sludge of negativity that just consumes that place, and I realized the only way to do so was to crawl up in the Lord’s lap and let Him wrap His wings around me and not move an inch.  I had to choose to see things from His perspective, rather than focus on the chaos around me. Most days now, I do pretty well.  What still gets to me is seeing/feeling the frustration others carry, but that’s where His directive comes into play.  I have been looking for every possible way to speak life over people.  For many, it’s as simple and basic as a smile and finding something positive to say to them (although the Lord asks me to pray for them in my own time).  For a few quietly like-minded believers on site, I get to ask openly how I can pray.  For two, maybe three, I can go a lot deeper.  There’s one who’s on a journey to discover the Lord, and I feel incredibly honored to be even a small part of that.

So, in hindsight, I guess I really should have realized that it wasn’t going to be what I thought.  The Lord sends me into places on assignments – he’s always done this – for his purposes.  I suppose I assumed, since the job description looked like someone wrote it based on a list of my experiences and qualifications, that I was going to make an impact through the job itself.  But y’all, I am not a “numbers trump people” kind of person.  I’m actually a pretty terrible manager, if you go by their definition of management.  I could not care less about being number one in the nation, or meeting quotas, or writing monthly reports, or or or…

I’ve got some future dreams burning in me, and I’m thinking they’re going to come to life pretty soon.  But I’m to stay in this job until the Lord says the assignment is finished.  And if I’m the only one in the entire company who believes that people are more important than stats, so be it.  I think about the stars, how from our perspective, they’re tiny little pinpoints of light in a vast blackness, but in reality, they’re quite large.  And to me, those little positive words are like the stars.  A small word of hope or kindness or truth can be a HUGE thing in the darkness of someone’s life, and I might never know because from where I’m standing, all I did was say, “Hey, you’ve got great hair,” or, “You are doing an awesome job, and I appreciate you.”

So there I go again, being all optimistic.  Sorry, cynics.  In the end, I know who’s got me, and I want to see things the way He does, always.  I choose life.

 

My Cup Filleth Up

The Lord really does do what he says he’s going to do.

There’s a story in the Bible (see Mark 9:14-29) about a man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus and basically says, “If you could do anything to fix this, that would be great.”  Jesus looks at him somewhat incredulously (implied by the use of the most emphatic form of “if” in the Greek) and says, “What do you mean, ‘if’? IF you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.”  The dad hears this, and according to one translation, says, “I do believe…now help my weakened faith.”   And let me tell you, often I relate to this guy more than any other character in the Bible.  Because I DO believe the Lord, just…weakly at times.  I want to be this powerhouse believer, never wavering, never feeling nervous, never questioning, but I’m more likely to be the one saying, “Yeah, God, I know you’re perfectly capable of doing ______, but are you actually gonna?”

Sigh.

Such was the case when I went to Denver over my birthday weekend.  I had a lot of expectations of the Lord because he had been shouting “REDEMPTION! REDEMPTION! REDEMPTION!” over the 6th of May since the start of the year.  I just didn’t have a lot of optimism that J was in line with all of it because there have been sooooo many times where I was hopeful, and my hope dropped like a bird shot out of the sky in the face of whatever mess J was dealing with at the time.  But I resolved to trust God regardless of how shaky I felt, and I went – this trip was the Lord’s idea to begin with, so once I said yes, I committed to it with everything I could.

And it was a fantastic weekend.

It was a little awkward at first; plus, flying sucks these days, so who’s really ever super-happy after stepping off an airplane?  But I had a great, blessedly quiet hotel room – we both agreed that a neutral space would be better than me staying with J – and after getting a good night’s sleep, I felt a little more optimistic.  We spent the whole of Friday driving through the Rocky Mountains, stopping whenever we wanted to, eating good food, and having good conversation.  We really enjoyed each others’ company, and by Saturday night, I felt a physical and psychic shift. (Have you ever had that happen?  Where you feel like your reality has literally been picked up and moved over a couple of inches and it takes you a second to recalibrate yourself?)  We sat in the hot tub at my hotel, and J poured out his heart to me.  Sadly, I couldn’t hear most of it because of the VERY loud children in the pool, but I could feel the truth and the sincerity of what he was saying.  I didn’t tell him that until after we had gotten out, though. 😀

The bottom line is: things are not what they were.  The old truly has passed away, and all things are made new.  We’re still in the process, but we are watching God’s promises unfold before us.  How gracious is he that our little, tiny, weakened faith is enough for him to work with?  I am so very optimistic for our future now!

The rest of the story in Mark finds the disciples asking Jesus why they couldn’t cast the demon out of the boy, and he told them that kind couldn’t come out except by prayer.  I say that to say this: if you need to see God move in a situation, PRAY.  And give him your little, tiny, weakened faith, and let him take it from there.  Don’t try to demand the hows or wheres or whens.  Let him do it.  If he says he will, he will.

Also, M and I are planning to move back to our beloved Alaska this summer, with J to follow when the Lord releases him to (at which time my cup shall overflow).  How this came about is for another post, but I will say that it is well in line with the words the Lord gave me for 2018: restoration, equilibrium, and tabula rasa.  I’ve applied for pretty much what seems my dream job, so hopefully I’ll have even more good news to share soon.

He’s so good, y’all.  He really is.

The Cheechako Speaks

Cheechako is a Chinook Jargon word used mainly in Alaska.  It means “newcomer,” “tenderfoot,” or “greenhorn.”  I learned this word years ago from some kid magazine (Highlights for Children or Cricket or Cobblestone or some such — I had subscriptions to them all). Aren’t you impressed that I still remember it? 😉  Since moving here in July, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to apply it to myself as I’ve come to realize how very different life is in the Last Frontier and how much I don’t know.

It’s not that I expected everything to be perfectly smooth in the transition, but I did think it might be a little easier than it has been. Because it’s not just the people that are different, nor the physical and spiritual climates, nor the terrain.  It’s all of those things and more.  It’s my own perspectives needing to shift.  It’s letting go of things, even when I consider them important.  It’s trying to find my own little space in this vast, open land.

When we first talked about moving, there was such a sense of newness over it all.  Maybe a better way to say that would be that it felt like opening a new journal full of pristine pages and taking pen in hand.  And then sitting there, excited to write, but experiencing the mother of all writer’s blocks, well, that has been the reality.  Let me explain:

When Lechuga, our family friend who moved with us, and I rolled into town, we assumed she was going to get an apartment, and I’d stay with her until my boys got here a month later.  There was not a single apartment available, so we rented a cabin, brainstormed, Skyped with my hubby, and came to the conclusion that we should all get a house together until such a time as Lechuga meets her mountain man/love of her life and J and I buy property and build.  We found a house (the rental market is uber-competitive here), and the day we went to walk through it with the intent of signing a lease, the realtor got a call from the tenants saying they were going to stay for another month, which, according to the lease terms, is perfectly kosher.  That left us effectively homeless for that time because we only had enough money for the rent and security deposit.  But God, being in the details like he is, told us to pick a church, drive to it, and tell our story.  We did…and a perfectly lovely receptionist promptly offered the use of her spare room and her basement apartment for when the boys arrived.

So there we stayed for a month, and maybe I’ll write more about that in another post.  On the 23rd of August, we got into the house, and then a week after that, the money showed up to pay the movers and the movers showed up with our stuff. Well, most of it.  They lost two boxes and a deep freezer and damaged our TempurPedic mattress, a hutch drawer, two bookshelves, and a dresser.  To make a very long story short, after the Austin movers passed the buck to the parent company and the parent company passed the buck to AK Terminals, they’re not replacing the freezer because the movers neglected to list it on the inventory list, and they gave us 60 cents per pound of damaged items because we didn’t take out full insurance.  And instead of fighting, I have let it go.  Why?  Well, back to the writer’s block analogy.  I expected certain things to be written on all those beautiful, blank pages, and instead, I haven’t been able to make the story say what I wanted it to say.  And frankly, I’m tired.  I have felt like so many things from our “old” life grew tentacles and grabbed at us, trying to hold us back.  I want the newness.  And if that means old, damaged or lost stuff doesn’t get replaced, then I will wait for the new to come in its time.  If I carried ideas or assumptions from my life in Texas into this new place, and they don’t fit, then I have to set them down.  If the story takes a different direction from what I imagined, I need to write it as such.

I’m not sure if I’m making sense.  I mean, EVERYTHING is different.  EVERYTHING:

  1. People aren’t rude, exactly, but they don’t use the pleasantries I grew up with like “excuse me” or “thank you.” They don’t even really look you in the face; nor do they hold doors open or give you the right of way.  I have made a point to do these things for them, anyway.
  2. I did notice that their driving got less aggressive when I put Alaska plates on my car.  There’s a love/hate relationship with tourists up here.  Tourism dollars are a HUGE part of the economy, and Alaskans know it, but they also have definite ideas about when it’s time for the tourists to go home.
  3. Non-Texan friends have teased me all my life about how much Texans love Texas.  I just need to tell y’all that Alaska’s pride puts Texas to shame.  I have never seen so many businesses with the state name as a part of the business name as up here.  EVERYTHING is “Alaska This or That.”  People have Alaska decals on their cars.  They wear all manner of Alaska-themed t-shirts and hoodies.  And Alaskans love to make fun of Texans, too, which was all the more reason to get those Texas plates off my car.
  4. Even the way I go shopping is different.  Pretty much everything my family uses is available up here.  It’s just not ALWAYS available.  You buy it when you see it on the shelf because it may not be there tomorrow.  This goes for groceries, clothing, toys, household goods, and all.
  5. 70 degrees here is WARM.  Even 50 degrees is warm when the sun is out.  And it’s not from the humidity because it’s super-dry.  I can’t figure it out, but, as a dear friend said, I have found my people.  Shorts and flip-flops and a sweatshirt?  Yes, please.  It’s almost the uniform here, at least for now.  I just need a pair of Bogs, and I will be indistinguishable from the “real” Alaskans.
  6. There’s a lot less happening spiritually here than in Austin.  I expected this, but it’s been interesting trying to acclimate.  That said, we know that’s part of why we were sent here.  My own relationship with God and the way I hear him has certainly been stretched.  This is, at times, painful, but it is always good.
  7. I have been introduced to the wonders of the HRV, or heat recovery ventilator, system.  I’m still not totally sure how to use it, though, like do I leave it on with the heater, or when it rains, or just all the time?  Someone clue me in!
  8. Speaking of rain, August-September is the rainy season here, if, by “rain,” you mean “kinda misty with a few big raindrops every day, several times a day.”  The Alaskan idea of a hard rain is one that you can hear hitting your roof.  As someone who adores Texas thunderstorms, I can only shake my head and laugh a little. 🙂

Last night, I wanted to go watch the northern lights.  But as I drove up into the mountains, I became less and less sure of myself.  It was pitch black, I was alone at 3900′ elevation, had no cell service, no gun, no bear spray. The thought of car trouble or meeting some maniac – animal or human – was enough that I turned around and drove home, frustrated with the realization of how unequipped I was to take care of myself in this great land. I have so much to learn, and very little of my Texas upbringing applies. Even so, I have awakened every morning with a profound sense of gratefulness that I get to live here.  I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I am home.

Walking on Water…Sorta

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Life as I know it has been HECTIC recently, so this past weekend, I took myself down to the Gulf Coast for a bit of “degaussing.”  Having grown up in that area, it’s always been a happy place/de-stressing place/thinking place for me, and this time was no different.  I took my journal with me, like always, and sought out the least-populated stretches of sand, like always, so I could meander and process.  (Hi, my name is Pellucere, and I like long walks on the beach…)

Eventually, I came to the Quintana fishing jetty, and it hit me suddenly that I had never once walked its entire, 3/5-mile-plus length.  I had a strong compulsion to do so, which was quickly countered by a mental litany of all sorts of reasons why I shouldn’t (you’ll get to the end and be swamped by the breaking waves and swept away into the muddy, brown Gulf.  You’ll drop your phone in the water while trying to take pictures.  It’s a pain to get saltwater off your sunglasses. Your mp3 player will get soaked.  You’ll lose your car keys.  NO ONE ELSE IS DOING IT!)

I am not generally a fearful person, and frankly, all these thoughts ticked me off.  I mean, really.  You know how sometimes you hear stuff in your head that you just KNOW isn’t you?  It struck me as an opportune time to take all those vain imaginations captive, and so I did.  Even so, as I began to walk out past the few fishermen perched on the first third of the jetty, I found myself stopped a few times, standing and watching the waves crash over its end.  But as I kept going, I realized that the breakers were landing directly in front of me or directly behind me.  Not once did I get more than wet feet.

I heard the Lord speak to me as I walked.  He said, “I will keep you safe.  The spray is all that will hit you, and it won’t bother you at all.  In fact, you will be refreshed.  You will thrive in it.”  I felt like He meant this for my life in general, and the jetty walk was really just an illustration, an exercise in choosing to trust Him, rather than let irrational fears rule me.  And I had to laugh when I finally reached the end — there was a large, green sign declaring this to be Jetty #7.  Green represents new life, and 7 is the number of completion.  I felt like I’d completed one phase or level and been promoted to a new one.

So many people I know are in a season of learning what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.  Where we thought we had an understanding of this before, there’s a new intensity to the lesson that makes me sure we’re being prepared for things we can’t even imagine.  If you find yourself in this season, blind and unable to hear, full of uncertainty and strange fears, maybe rethinking everything you ever thought you knew, rest assured that you absolutely are not alone.  Take comfort in the fact that the Lord believes in YOU enough to stretch you a little further, teach you a little more.  Be proud that He thinks you capable of the hard assignments.  Think of it as an honors class in more ways than one. 🙂

Can’t wait to see where I walk next!

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dämmerschlaf

You know, when you ask the Lord what he wants to talk about, you never really know exactly what he’s going to say…this morning, for example, he brought up twilight sleep.  He asked me to go read about it and then get back to him, so, coffee mug in hand, I read. Here is what I learned:

In the early 20th century, Carl Gauss developed a method called Dämmerschlaf, or “twilight sleep,” for laboring mothers .  Moms-to-be were drugged into a semi-narcotic but conscious state, the idea being that they would have no post-delivery memory of labor pain.  It was heralded as a “new era” for women, but the side effects left something to be desired.

For one thing, twilight sleep removed the woman from the experience of childbirth.  True, she had no memory of the pain, but she also couldn’t actively participate in, or remember, the delivery itself.  One Nebraskan woman is on record as saying, “The next thing I knew I was awake […] and then I thought to myself, ‘I wonder how long before I shall begin to have the baby,’ and while I was still wondering a nurse came in with a pillow, and on the pillow was a baby, and they said I had had it—perhaps I had—but I certainly can never prove it in a courtroom.”

In some cases, this memory deficit affected the normal mother-infant bonding process, leading to ongoing issues.  In addition, the drugs used (a cocktail of morphine and scopolamine) affected the infants’ central nervous systems, which resulted in lethargic babies with poor breathing capacity.  All in all, not a great way to start out…

Okay, I’m back,” said I.  “What are you wanting me to see?

God: Talk to me about your own experience giving birth to M.

Me: Okaaaay.  I went totally natural, had a waterbirth.  I felt like a mama cat who just wanted to be left alone and let the process happen.  I trusted that my body would do what it needed to.  I was adamant about not having an epidural or meds because I wanted to experience the process from start to finish, and because I knew it would be healthier for me and the baby. 

God: What else?

Me: It hurt.  It was a lot of work.  I thought I might die a few times.  Hubby had to keep reminding me to breathe. 

God: But you were fully present in the moment, yes?  You remember when they laid your baby on your chest and you got to see him the first time?

Me:  Yes, I remember clearly.  I was astounded at how beautiful he was.

God:  Okay, so, switching gears for a minute.  You’re not really one for the journey, are you?

Me:  Ummm…I like road trips a lot.  When I get to plan them.

God:  Right, when you’re in charge.  But you aren’t too fond of not knowing what’s going to happen next, are you?  You’ve been learning this about yourself recently.

Me:  Sigh.

God: So let me talk to you about birthing a dream.

Me (starting to see where this was going): Okay.

God: What if you had been in twilight sleep while in labor with your son?  You wouldn’t have memories of pain, but you wouldn’t have been able to be a part of the process.  But since you were awake and aware, you got to experience it all.  And you knew him the second you saw him. Now, just like your midwife knew the natural progression of birth, I know the process for birthing a dream.  I don’t want you in twilight sleep as this thing unfolds.  I want you to be fully present. I need you to trust me, trust that I’m monitoring your vital signs, trust that I know when to tell you to relax and when to push.  I promise you that there’s a connection between the memories of the pain and the value of the dream when it comes true.  And also?  Dreams are healthier, fuller, when we co-labor.

Me:  Okay, so all this recent frustration and not knowing what in the world is going on…what’s all that about?

God:  That’s because you should be relaxing, and instead, you’re trying to push.  Timing is everything, daughter o’ mine.  Let me do my part so you can do yours. I’ll let you know when to push.

God is right, of course.  Right now is a time that I am fully aware of a dream on the horizon, and I am completely unable to MAKE it happen sooner. This has caused me no shortage of grief as I learn to trust his process, trust him even more.  I’ve spent a lot of time yelling and pushing, when what I needed to be doing was saving my strength for when it’s time.  And there are always, ALWAYS clear signs of when it’s time…which I would miss if I were in Dämmerschlaf.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rest.

 

 

The Summer of “Whaaaaat???”

So…it’s the 15th of July, and my summer has not been even remotely what I thought it would.  What it HAS been is a series of lessons in adjusting my thinking and my response time.  Timing is everything, you know…

First, I had planned on taking the summer off from school (1st break in 3 years) and starting to write my book.  Then I found out that the 4 classes I needed in order to graduate in December were all being offered on the same days in the same 3 time slots, which meant that if I took the summer off, I’d have to go one semester longer for a single class.  Uh, no thanks.  So I signed up for 2 classes this summer – one of which meets at 8 in the morning on SATURDAY, 50 miles from my house.  Yay!

Second, God began to challenge me to rethink everything I ever thought I knew, which I’ve identified as the running theme to my summer.  Through a series of very cool events which I’ll probably document in another blog entry at some point, He showed up in my house in a major way and basically left the door open.  I’m not kidding – people walk into my living room and get overwhelmed by the presence of God.  I’m – we’re – learning how to steward that well, and it’s the reason for all my “best-laid plans” going wonky.

Third, the plans I had to keep my son occupied fell through.  The thought here was to give him something to do for a few hours while I wrote my book…and then while I did my summer schoolwork, too…negatory, Ghostrider.  Instead of him participating in a summer homeschool program my friend started, he’s been home with me all this time.  I was pretty concerned about this arrangement at the beginning (gonna be reeeeeally transparent here) for several reasons.  One, I am definitely not the stay-at-home mom type.  I realize many women are, and God bless ’em, but the idea of coming up with fun little activities we could do together (sock puppets!  dance party!  locking myself in the closet!) sets my teeth on edge.  Two, my son and I are so, so much alike that I thought we’d drive each other up the walnuts, as he says.  Three, my tolerance for Star Wars is exactly 1/276,0000th of my child’s enthusiasm for it.  But what God told me changed my perspective a good deal (well, that, and mandating “No Star Wars Days” from time to time).  He told me that the summer was all about training up my child in the way HE should go – because M and I share very similar giftings, the Lord wanted him to spend a lot of time with me, just watching me live day to day interacting with people and with Him.  And curiously, our being so alike has actually been beneficial.  It turns out my kid wants his alone time just as much as I want mine, and he understands completely when I need to disengage for a few minutes.  He also still likes to take naps or lie quietly reading or drawing for hours at a time, so I’ve not felt tons of pressure to come up with things to do.  We’ve grown closer, and we’ve discussed topics ranging from the Dark Ages vs the Renaissance to Democrats and Republicans to why different denominations believe different things about the same God.  All topics brought up by the 7 year-old, I might add.  It’s kept me on my toes.

Fourth, we were given a word that now was the time to make some decisions.  Well, let me tell you, I’ve had a whole list of topics that I knew were going to need some attention, but I didn’t know immediacy, priority, etc.  And of all the ones to start with, I’d have never picked the one that God did…but isn’t that usually the case?  So the latest is that we’ve been feeling like M wouldn’t continue at the private school he’s gone to for the last 2 years for much longer.  We did think he’d go at least one more year.  Today confirmed otherwise.  We – J, M and I all – have clear direction that he is going to the public elementary school in our neighborhood for 2nd grade.  And I have this strong sense (which has been confirmed by a trusted friend) that all the other decisions will fall into place, contingent on this one.  My friend said she saw the Lord placing a bunch of dominoes very precisely, and when He was through, I got to flick the first one down, which set off the chain reaction perfectly.  I don’t think He could have gotten much clearer. 🙂

Fifth, one of the very biggest things that has happened this summer came from out of the blue.  I started having all these people speak words of creativity over me, again and again and again.  These were people who know me as very logical, precise, and organized.  What none of them know is that early in my life, I painted and drew and wrote constantly and never went anywhere without my beloved Canon A1.  But some years ago, I set all that down.  Life required too much logic and precision just to get by, and I guess I got used to moving within those parameters.  The creativity got stuffed in a dark closet somewhere.  But then a couple of weeks ago I began to feel that there’s a series of paintings the Lord wants me to do…and I kind of freaked out.  I really don’t move in a lot of fear or intimidation as a rule in my daily life, but in this area, I was definitely not my normal, confident self.  All I could think was, “What if it’s no good?  What if I can’t get it out of my head and onto the canvas?  What if I’m fooling myself and I really suck at this stuff?”  Ad nauseam.  And that in itself was completely annoying because I KNOW better than that, but I was still thinking that way and couldn’t seem to help it.  So I made myself accountable to an intercessor group I’m part of…and the next thing I knew, they were all tossing money at me to sow into this series of paintings and my giftings.  The gesture blew me away, and I figured that the 30 or 40 dollars would buy a couple of canvases and maybe a few brushes.  Except that the 30 or 40 dollars ended up being $235.26, and I was promised a French easel as well.  HOLY TOLEDO COW MOLEY FRIJOLE!  I joked that I guessed God was serious about this, and then I went shopping!  And do you know that all of what I bought cost 47 cents less than what was given to me – and I got every single thing I need to get started???

So now I’m at a place where I’m just watching to see where the dominoes fall.  We’ve got one decision crossed off the list, and I have no idea which one will be addressed next, but I know it’ll be ordered of the Lord.  I’m good with that!  And I’m not making ANY more plans this summer (did I mention I was hoping to travel before school started back up?  Sigh…).  So if you happen to call to see if I want to go do something, you might have to be happy with a “maybe” for your answer. 🙂

How’s your summer going?